TAMPA, Fla. – The Premier Development League today welcomed Texas United and FC Cleburne to the league ahead of the 2017 regular season. Owned and operated by Neltex Sports Group, the two clubs will join the Southern Conference.
Neltex Sports Group, which is led by President Robbie Fenyes, is comprised of distinguished sport executives, entrepreneurs and successful business owners based in Texas.
“We are thrilled to have the Neltex Sports Group join the Premier Development League as owners because they know how to run an effective franchise and will provide college-aged players in the area a great opportunity to improve their game on their path to the professional ranks,” PDL Director Todd Eason said. “The PDL made it a priority to bring high-performing ownership groups into the league for 2017 and beyond, and Texas United’s and FC Cleburne’s ownership group is a strong addition to the league.”
FC Cleburne will play their home matches at The Depot at Cleburne Station, a state-of-the-art multi-use stadium. The Depot is also the current stadium for the Cleburne Railroaders, an independent professional baseball team that competes in the American Association of Independent Professional Baseball. Texas United will call AirHogs Stadium – which has a capacity of 5,445 – home for the 2017 regular season, sharing the facilities with the Texas AirHogs, a baseball team that also competes in the American Association.
“We could not be more excited about bringing the global sport to the local communities,” Fenyes said. “We are continually seeking affordable family entertainment options and the PDL fits perfectly.”
Texas United and FC Cleburne join the Tampa Bay Rowdies U23, SIMA Águilas, Weston FC, Lakeland Tropics, Myrtle Beach Mutiny, Houston FC, FC Boulder, Nashville SC U23, Tobacco Road FC, Wilmington Hammerheads FC, SoCal Surf and a Brazos Valley-based club as expansion franchises set to begin play in 2017.
"Using sports as a platform to affect lives and communities is a true passion of ours,” Neltex Sports Group CEO Christie Nelson said. “We are excited to join the PDL and further our initiatives through soccer in Grand Prairie and Cleburne."
A part of the United Soccer Leagues, which also operates the Division II United Soccer League and Super Y League, the PDL is a proven stepping-stone for aspiring professionals. Since 2010, nearly 70 percent of PDL alumni have been selected in Major League Soccer SuperDrafts, with a total of 59 being chosen in 2017.
More than 550 PDL alumni were a part of the 2016 USL and MLS regular seasons, including 2016 MLS Rookie of the Year Jordan Morris, 2016 MLS Defender of the Year Matt Hedges, 2016 USL MVP Sean Okoli and 2016 USL Rookie of the Year Brandon Allen. U.S. Men’s National Team members Brad Guzan, Darlington Nagbe, DeAndre Yedlin, Gyasi Zardes and Perry Kitchen are among the many professionals to have had PDL experience.